The cervical smear test is carried out to look for a change in
the skin lining the part of the cervix that juts into the vagina. Such
a change is described as 'pre-cancerous'. It is not cancer, but it does
indicate that cancer may develop if the condition remains untreated.
For a smear test, you will be asked to lie on your back with
your legs bent and your knees parted. A plastic or metal instrument,
called a speculum, is inserted into the vagina to hold it open so that
the cervix can be seen.
The doctor or nurse will examine the cervix and collect some
cervical cells. This is done by gently scraping the cervix in a circular
motion using a specially designed spatula and possibly also a small
brush. The cells are smeared onto a glass slide, and will be examined
under a microscope in the laboratory.
A smear test only takes a few minutes. It is not painful but
can be a bit uncomfortable.
Your doctor or nurse will be able to tell you how long it will
take to get the test results.
The abnormal appearance of cells on a smear associated with pre-cancerous
changes is called dyskaryosis.